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Don't Let The Cooch be a Bellwether

by: Eric Steigleder

Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 16:43:55 PM EST

( - promoted by lowkell)

No need for a prolonged introduction. No extended prologue necessary. The point of this post is simple: We as a state cannot allow Ken Cuccinelli to become a rallying-cry for erstwhile Tea Partiers and freshly-defeated Republicans the country over.

Let me back up.

Democrats won a decisive victory this year. We maintained control of both the White House and the Senate, gained eight seats in the House, increased support among women and Latinos and toppled anti-woman candidates Akin and Mourdock. There's no doubt that we have a lot to celebrate and Republicans have plenty to mourn.

Which brings us to Virginia's gubernatorial race in 2013. Severely-conservative Attorney General Ken "The Cooch" Cuccinelli announced his run way back in November of 2011, hijacking the agreed-upon process, disregarding the possibility of a unified GOP ticket and effectively booting Lt. Governor Bill Bolling from the process.

We in Virginia are no strangers to fringe Republicans aspiring to higher office. But Cuccinell's Tea Party-backed candidacy couldn't come at a worse time. That is, when national Republicans are searching for a light at the end of the tunnel - an ideologically pure, "great, really-white hope," who can revitalize and empower the defeated conservative denizens that took such a beating on Nov. 6.

An anti-woman, anti-labor, anti-LGBT, anti-science standard-bearer like Ken Cuccinelli.

What's more, New Jersey and Virginia are the only two states that hold their gubernatorial elections the year after the presidential contest. As such, Democrats and Republicans (rightly or wrongly) treat these races as a harbinger of their respective political futures. All eyes fall to the Old Dominion and the Garden State for proof that the previous November's results will either be reinforced or rejected.

But this year is different. Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey is not only ensured victory, but his post-Sandy embrace of the President has led many in the Republican Party (aka, wingnuts) to question Christie's conservative credentials. Because of this, Virginia will become the sole litmus test for disenchanted Republicans desperately seeking to prove the viability of the kind of far-right ideology that Cuccinelli so enthusiastically espouses.

And make no mistake. Cuccinelli is well aware that this is the case. This is what he had to say to a crowd of Republicans at a meeting in Virginia Beach: This election is "an opportunity to show the country that conservatism isn't dead ... that it's not old or worn out - and that it's still alive and thriving!"

So let's recap: We have an ambitious, extremist gubernatorial candidate running for office, a national party hungry for the kind of relief his election would bring, and a political climate that demands Virginia take center stage.

If we allow the Cooch to win, if we allow him to become the national figure he so desires to be and by extension prolongs the life of a hateful, ineffective ideology, we will have contributed to the kind of social and economic regression that we as progressives must never be willing to accept.

In short Virginians, we still have a lot of work to do.  

Eric Steigleder :: Don't Let The Cooch be a Bellwether
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